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A closer look at the collateral consequences of a conviction

Those individuals facing any sort of serious criminal charges typically tend to focus on a sole consequence of a possible conviction: incarceration.

While this is entirely understandable given the harsh realities associated with spending time behind bars, it’s important to understand that there are other very serious consequences associated with a conviction and that these consequences are not just limited to those crimes classified as felonies.

Given that a complete discussion of the collateral consequences of a conviction is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, our blog will instead focus on three important areas in which a person may see their rights and opportunities curtailed after being found guilty.

Firearm ownership

State law dictates that ownership of “regulated firearms” — defined to include handguns and a lengthy list of other rifles/assault weapons — is prohibited among the following:

  • Those convicted of felonies.
  • Those convicted of misdemeanors carrying a penalty of over two years.
  • Those convicted of crimes of violence.

Voting rights

Maryland law used to dictate that anyone convicted of a felony was permanently disqualified from voting, a rather draconian stance repealed by lawmakers in 2007.

Now, the law narrows the voting prohibition to those individuals who have been convicted of a felony and are in the process of serving their court-ordered sentence, including either probation or parole. What this means is that unless you were convicted of buying or selling votes, something that earns a permanent voting ban, voting rights won’t be restored until your sentence is complete.

Jury duty

Section 8-103 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article dictates that that the following parties are ineligible to serve on a jury in the state:

  • Those convicted of a crime punishable by more than six months in prison at the either the state or federal level who are subsequently sentenced to more than six months in prison.
  • Those who are facing criminal charges at the either the state or federal level for a crime punishable by more than six months in prison.

It’s important to note that this prohibition against jury duty applies for both felonies and misdemeanors.

The following serves to underscore just how important it is to retain the services of a dedicated, skilled and aggressive advocate when facing criminal charges as it’s not just your freedom that is endangered by a possible conviction.   

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